This is the shocking moment an overturned petrol tanker explodes into a fireball that engulfs the large crowd of looters that had gathered to steal the fuel, leaving seven people dead and around 80 injured.
The startling incident took place yesterday (Monday) on the main road linking the town of Cienega with the city of Barranquilla in northern Colombia’s Atlantico department after the fuel tanker overturned on kilometre 48 of the road.
The national police report to local media that around 150 people from the nearby town of Tasajera in the Puebloviejo area went to the scene to steal fuel from the overturned tanker and in the footage they can be seen carrying buckets and jerry cans as police officers look on.
The video shows how the fuel tanker then suddenly exploded in a fireball.
Local media report the explosion caused the deaths of seven people and left at least 80 people with burns, many of whom were seriously injured.
Brandon Marquez, the secretariat of Health of Puebloviejo, told local newspaper Semana that 28 of those injured were taken to the hospital of San Cristobal of Cienaga, and the others were taken to other hospitals.
Fabian Obispo, the Mayor of Puebloviejo, told local media that “sadly the situation happened in our municipality. We have heard that a lot of people went to look at the accident and the vehicle burst into flames and the explosion happened.”
The victims have not yet been identified by the authorities.
Carlos Caicedo, the Governor of Magdalena, told local newspaper Semana that “watching that video breaks your soul,” adding: “It is painful and shows the level of neediness and poverty that there is in that territory.”
He said that “extreme poverty” had caused the incident as informal workers had rushed to the tanker as they saw the petrol as an opportunity to make money in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor said help would be provided for the families of those killed and injured in the incident.
Caicedo confirmed an investigation into the causes of the initial accident would be launched, adding: “It could be mechanical failure or a personal accident, but the driver was saved and managed to get out of the lorry before the arrival of the people.”
The Colombian presidency wrote on social media: “We send a message of solidarity and are accompanying the families who have lost their loved ones today in the accident that happened on the road between Barranquilla and Cienaga. We are analysing the causes of the accident and will give information in the next few hours.”
The investigation is ongoing.